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Dear friends,

The first session of the National Plenary Council in Adelaide is just 12 months away. A Plenary Council is a formal meeting of the bishops and other representatives of all the dioceses and eparchies of the Catholic Church in Australia. Its purpose is to discern what God is asking of us in Australia at this present time. While the church should be asking that question continually, a Plenary Council is a particularly graced instrument for seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And it has the authority to make church laws on the results of its discernment. Although in the end it will be the bishops who will vote on any future directions for the church in Australia, they will be making those decisions in the light of a long listening to the Holy Spirit speaking through the voices of any of the faithful who wish to speak around Australia. This makes the Plenary Council 2020 different from the last one in 1937. Everyone has a chance to participate and to express whatever the Spirit is saying to them in their heart.  With the release of the six National Plenary Themes for Discernment (Missionary and evangelising; Inclusive, participatory and synodal; Prayerful and Eucharistic; Humble, healing and merciful; A joyful, hope-filled and servant community;  Open to conversion, renewal and reform) and the commencement of the Listening and Discernment phase of the Plenary journey, the Archdiocese of Brisbane held a Brisbane Assembly these past few days at the Edmund Rice Performing Arts Centre at St Laurence’s College in South Brisbane. The Brisbane Assembly provided participants with a deeper understanding of the themes for national discernment, the latest developments and vision casting from the Plenary Council national facilitation team, and most importantly an opportunity to take part in a process of communal discernment led by experienced facilitators. Participants heard from an array of quality presenters on ‘Discernment’ and ‘Effective Communication’ to assist with the Listening and Discernment phase. The hope of this assembly is that it will aid to empower participants to engage their own communities with the second phase of the Plenary journey in the lead up to the Council in 2020.

Fr. Anthony

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